Invent-A-Soup Sunday: Spicy Chicken Avocado Soup

I’ll admit, new posts have been a bit thin on the ground around here lately; chalk it up to Shiv and I trying to slog our way through The Winter That Refuses To Die™. However, today managed to surprise me with some morning sunbeams through my window, at which point I rolled out of bed in a panic and flung myself outdoors in an effort to catch a ray or two before they disappeared again. I am pleased to report that I had a solid 20 minutes of bona fide basking, and in my newly re-energized state, I decided that tonight would be a good night to invent a soup!

soup1

When it comes to cooking something that I have not planned for in advance, I usually have trouble. This is because of two things: 1) I never seem to have anything to eat in my house aside from condiments, and 2) I live in a weird area where decent groceries are nowhere nearby, and the last thing I feel like doing on a lazy Sunday is schlepping on a subway down to Whole Foods. So, impromptu cooking? Not the easiest prospect, even though Invent-A-Dish is one of my favorite games in the world. Undaunted, I took stock of what was in my cupboards (some spices, some chicken stock, a can of corn, and some frozen chicken breasts from a trip to Costco a month ago) and walked a block over to a place that, although it has no meat or bakery or whatever, does tend to at least have some very basic produce (onions, garlic, an avocado, a handful of limes, some random dairy). Long story short, after blocking the aisles for far too long trying to figure out what I wanted to eat, I came home with exactly what I needed to invent a spicy soup that absolutely made my night.

soup2

I will be completely modest at this point and just say one thing: this soup absolutely blew me away with awesome. The end result does what my favorite foods all do — hits flavor notes all over the place. Spice from the cayenne and chili, a deeper warmth from the cinnamon and cloves, a little salty, creamy, hot, cool, a little crunch, a citrus bite. Added bonus: it’s gorgeous. It also is a great example of what’s amazing about soup; the recipe is, at best, a suggestion. Sure, in this case it’s a strong suggestion, because yummmz, but you can swap anything in or out as you like, and chances are, it’ll still be pretty damn tasty. Another great thing about soup is that I totally have enough to store away for tomorrow…and you know it’s always better the next day.

Spicy Chicken Avocado Soup

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of kernel corn
1 can of diced tomatoes (yes yes use fresh, but i happened to have a can for some reason)
1 red pepper, diced
1 avocado
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
3 limes, juiced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
a few tbsp sour cream
a handful of queso fresco cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper

  1. Put a large pot on the stove over high heat (sidenote: the more I use the Le Creuset, the more I wonder how on earth I survived without it), and add the peanut oil and butter. Let it come up to a bubble.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, and add them to the pot. Brown the chicken on both sides — should take about five minutes — remove, and set aside.
  3. Toss the onions into the pot, and let them sizzle away and soak up all those amazing brown chickeny flavor bits from the bottom of the pot until they’re translucent, again about five minutes. Toss in the garlic and a bit of salt and pepper, and cook 2-3 minutes more.
  4. Add the corn, tomatoes, and red pepper, stir another couple minutes. Pour in the stock and the water, and let it come up to a boil.
  5. Drop the heat to medium, and put the chicken breasts back in. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, paprika, cayenne, and chili flakes.
  6. Let this simmer away and reduce a bit for about 40 minutes. Pull out the chicken breasts and set aside.
  7. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado, and stir it up with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  8. When the chicken has cooled a bit, shred it with a fork and stir it back into the soup. Simmer this all up for another five minutes. You can also add some water back in if it’s reduced a little too far. When you’re ready to serve, kill the heat and stir in the lime juice. Remember to salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Ladle the soup up, and top with a creamy spoonful of sour cream, a handful of sprinkled queso, and some of that gorgeously green avocado. Enjoy!
  10. In chicken, soup, spicy

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